Tony Rush

This guy is clearly one of the most interesting, clear-eyed and insightful voices out there for honest, candid assessment of southern gospel music. A pianist for several different groups (most recently, I think, the Anchormen), Rush makes most of his appearances these days on the sogospelnews.com message boards. It’s telling that this is his primary mode of expression. That is, I can’t imagine someone as frank as Rush writing a column in, say, the Singing News or one of Gaither’s publications (for the record, I know nothing to make me think Rush is looking for such a gig). Unlike the SN’s Roy Pauley, who mistakes unexamined biases, colossally bad judgment, and really outrageous statements for plain-spoken truth, or Nick Bruno, the self-appointed oracle of southern-gospel success whose Gospel Truth column and personal website smack of inadvertent condescension and self-promotion (respectively), Rush’s writing passes one of the basic lessons of Freshman Comp: he creates good will and generates a sense of trustworthiness with his audience. During a sogospelnews discussion of the Anchormen and the group’s struggle to keep it together, someone suggested that the “the guys that own the Anchormen are first class … and don’t really deserve” to be criticized for the group’s failures. Rush responded, in part, by saying:

[T]he truth is that’s just the way it is. It’s not a matter of whether someone “deserves this kind of talk.” Ray Bullard [principle owner of the Anchormen] is a wonderful man with a good heart and I enjoyed working with him. But, to be perfectly candid, when a group sings for 20+ years, can’t keep a group together for more than a few months at a time and is consistently scraping by . . . it’s not an issue of whether someone is a good person. It’s an issue of simply not taking care of business. (for the full exchange, click here)

While most of the rest of southern gospel is busy putting a happy face on as many things as possible (and, if it can’t be prettified and happy-faced, pretending it doesn’t exist), Rush is willing to speak bluntly (plus, he knows that men are supposed to match socks to their pants, not their shoes, and that a short-sleeve dress shirt is technically an impossibility). This guy has the mind and the makings of a fine online commentator (the words blog and blogger make me shudder, but that’s what I’m referring to). Read this post and you’ll see what I mean. Most of all, though, he’s one of the few people who will say publicly about southern gospel many of things a lot of folks will only think and talk about privately. We need more like him. Someone, give this man a megaphone.

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